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Last updated
24 August 2012




August 1999
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Aurora District


Ontario Base Maps: 10 17 6750 48700, 6750 48650, 6750 45600, 6800 48650
National Topographic Series Maps: 30M/15
UTM Reference: 10 17 678000 4867000
Latitude: 33 56 ' Longitude: 78 46 '
Aerial Photographs: 1:12.000, 1994-23-04, Roll 94014, Line & No. 6:120-127, Line & No. 5: %-102; 1;10,000,MNR 1997, Roll 38, Line & No. 6789-6792
Municipality, Lots & Concessions: Regional Municipality of Durham, Municipality of Clarington: Conc. 3, Lots 17-30; Conc. 4, Lots 17-29; Conc. 5, Lots 21, 23, 24, 26
Ownership: 100% private
Conservation Authority: Central Lake Ontario (CLOCA)
Wetland Status: provincially significant
Number of Wetlands and Area: 37 wetlands, 585.3 ha
Wetland Type: Swamp 91%. Marsh 99%
Wetland Site Type: Palustrine 91.7%, Riverine 8.2%, Isolated 0.1%
Wetland Score: Biological Component 175, Social Component 156, Hydrological Component 241, Special Features 250, Total 822
Dates Investigated: 1997: July 7; Oct. 15, 24, 28; Nov. 4, 26; Sept. 3, 5, 11;, 1998: Sept. 3, 15; 1999: Aug. 5, 16, 18, 24, 25
Person Hours: 284 hours
Investigators: MNR: Steve Varga, Mike McMurtry, Tim Rance, Demetra Kandalepas, Elizabeth Zajc, Karen Mewa, Heather Murdie, Ramana Ihambipillai, Christine Jacobson and Lesley Tebby; CLOCA: Kathy Heib, Dale Leadbeater and Brian Henshaw (Henshaw, 1998)


The provincially significant Black-Farewell Wetland Complex is located in the Municipality of Clarington and is bounded by Trulls Rd., Green Rd., Nash Rd. and Conlin Rd.

The Black-Farewell Wetland Complex updates and re-examines the wetland complex evaluated by MNR in 1987. It incorporates a number of wetlands that were not looked at in the 1987 evaluation. This inventory is part of an ongoing effort to update and re-examine wetlands in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), The fieldwork was done in partnership with the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority.

The wetlands are grouped into one complex because they are all situated on the Farewell Creek watershed and individual wetlands are located within 750 metres of the nearest adjacent wetland. The wetlands are also linked by stream corridors, adjacent forested uplands or by agricultural lands.

Six wetlands under one hectare were included in the complex. One wetland is part of a larger wetland, now separated by a narrow strip of agricultural land. The other five wetlands were included because they support communities not well represented elsewhere in the wetland complex, have significant species or serve as amphibian breeding ponds.

In addition, small upland pockets have been included in the wetland complex. These areas are too indistinct to separate from the surrounding wetlands.

Biological Component

The Black-Farewell Wetland Complex receives a score of 175 for its biological component.

Black-Farewell has 37 wetlands covering a total of 585.3 hectares. These wetlands occur along Farewell Creek and its major tributary Black Creek. Most of the wetlands have mineral substrates of sands and, less frequently, loams and clays that are poorly drained with the water table within five metres of the surface (Gartner Lee Ltd. 1978).

The sandy soils of Black-Farewell were laid down along the shores of glacial Lake Iroquois, a much larger version of Lake Ontario. The Regional Municipality of Durham has the most extensive example of Lake Iroquois shoreline in the GTA. The shoreline's poorly drained soils are evident as an extensive east-west band of forests and wetlands across the breadth of southern Durham.

The Black-Farewell wetlands sustain a high diversity of 42 wetland types. Most common are swamps covering 91% of the wetland complex. There are mixed/conifer swamps dominated by White Cedar (41.2%) and deciduous swamps of Trembling Aspen, Balsam Poplar, Green Ash, Silver Maple, Yellow Birch, White Elm and Black Ash (40.9%). Scattered thicket swamps dominated by various willow species and Redosier Dogwood cover 9.4% of the wetland complex. Covering the remaining 8.8% of the wetland complex are marshes of cattails (Typha sp.) and Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and, occasionally, Wool-rush (Scirpus cyperinus), Water-parsnip (Sium sauve), Canada Bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis), Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), Lake Sedge (Carex lacustris) and Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum). Several open ponds are dominated by Leafy Pondweed (Potamogeton foliosus) and Common Duckweed (Lemna minor).

Black-Farewell is noteworthy for its diversity of surrounding upland forests and plantations, which cover 144 ha. The most common woodland types are Sugar Maple deciduous forests and Hemlock Sugar Maple mixed forests. There are also occasional forest stands of Red Maple, Sugar Maple-Beech, White Cedar and White Cedar-Hemlock. Some of these upland forests, such as those in and around Wetlands 1 and 8 are noteworthy for their maturity, with a number of trees over 100 years in age. There are also younger successional forests of Trembling Aspen and White Birch in deciduous stands or mixed with White Cedar. Conifer plantations are restricted to several small pockets.

The diversity of wetlands and associated uplands at Black-Farewell explains its high diversity of plants and animals. The inventory found 63 breeding bird species, 10 reptile and amphibian species and 402 vascular plant species.

Adjacent uplands are important for many wetland species at Black-Farewell, and they are critical for the maintenance of its wetland functions. Waterfowl such as Mallards nest in fields around the wetlands. The abundant population of woodland frogs such as Spring Peeper, Wood Frog and Gray Treefrog rely on the spring-flooded thicket swamps and marshes for breeding, but forage and hibernate in the surrounding upland forests and plantations. Other frogs at Black-Farewell such as the Leopard Frog forage in fields a considerable distance from the wetlands. They also move between wetlands, hibernating in the bottom of deeper permanent ponds, and breeding in more shallow wetlands. The Snapping Turtles and Painted Turtles at Black-Farewell live year-round in permanent wetlands, but lay their eggs in the surrounding uplands.

Black-Farewell's diversity of breeding forest bird species is due to its large tracts of treed swamps and associated upland forests. These include such forest birds as: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Black-and-White Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Veery, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Waterthrush, White-throated Sparrow, White-breasted Nuthatch and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Social Component

The Black-Farewell Wetland Complex receives a score of 156 for its social component. The wetlands receive high to moderate scores for economically valuable products and recreational activities such as fishing. Its nearness to urban centres is also noteworthy.

Hydrological Component

The Black-Farewell Wetland Complex receives a score of 241 for its hydrological component.

The extensive Black-Farewell wetlands are hydrologically very important in regards to flood attenuation, maintaining water quality, groundwater discharge and recharge, and as a long-term nutrient trap. These hydrological functions are critical to the downstream ecological health of Farewell Creek, surrounding urban areas and at Farewell's mouth, Second Marsh, an outstanding lakeshore wetland (Henshaw & Leadbeater 1999).

The wetlands at Black-Farewell are highly significant discharge zones providing clear cold water to Farewell Creek and its major tributary Black Creek. It is these wetlands and the surrounding uplands that are responsible for this stretch of Farewell Creek supporting coldwater fisheries in contrast to the warmwater fisheries upstream and downstream of the wetlands (Gartner Lee Ltd 1978). The wetlands also serve as recharge areas into the aquifers along the Lake Iroquois shoreline.

Special Features

The Black-Farewell Wetland Complex receives the maximum score of 250 for its special features.

Extensive wetlands such as Black-Farewell are uncommon on the Lake Iroquois Plain (site district 6-13). The poorly drained soils along the Iroquois Shoreline and the lakeshore marshes support most of the wetlands in this site district. Black-Farewell is noteworthy for supporting the largest wetland complex and the largest swamps on the Iroquois Plain in the GTA.

The Black-Farewell wetlands are outstanding for their significant species, one of the largest concentrations on the Lake Iroquois Plain (Table 1). Its extensive swamps and associated upland forests support two significant forest bird species that require large forested habitats: the locally rare Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher and the provincially rare Red-shouldered Hawk. Twenty-four locally rare plant species occur in a variety of wetlands.

Black-Farewell is important for wildlife. Its 241 hectares of mixed/conifer swamps are locally significant for wintering deer. Its spring-flooded wetlands provide a spring stopover for migrating waterfowl such as the Wood Duck. This waterfowl species and the Mallard also breed at Black-Farewell, in addition to other wetland birds such as: Common Snipe, Green-backed Heron, Northern Waterthrush, Swamp Sparrow, Alder Flycatcher and Willow Flycatcher. Black-Farewell also supports a Great Blue Heron rookery, one of only about a dozen such breeding colonies in the GTA.

Black-Farewell sustains locally significant fish habitat. The tributaries in and around the Black-Farewell wetlands have Brook Trout and Mottled Sculpin populations, which are indicators of good coldwater habitat. Other fish species present include Rainbow Trout, Common White Sucker, Bluegill Sunfish, Brown Trout, Pumpkinseed, Brown Bullhead, and Rock Bass. Many minnow species also occur in the creeks such as: Creek Chub, Blacknose Dace, Longnose Dace, Common Shiner, Bluntnose Minnow, Rainbow Darter, Johnny Darter, Northern Redbelly Dace, Fathead Minnow, Fantail Darter, Spottail Shiner and Finescale Dace.

Table 1. Significant species

Provincially Significant Breeding Bird Species
Source: Brian Henshaw 1998 field observations

1. Red-shouldered Hawk

Locally Rare Plant Species (Rare in the Regional Municipality of Durham)
Source: S.Varga field observations and collections 1997-99; Dale Leadbeater field observations and collections 1995, 97. 98 (Leadbeater 1998 field notes, Gartner Lee Ltd. 1998): Status: based on VYg;L S. et al.. 1999.

1. Yellow Sedge (Carex flava)
2. Ground-pine (Lycopodium obscurum)
3. Beaked Sedge (Carex utriculata)
4. Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
5. New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis)
6. Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum)
7. Marsh Purslane (Ludwigia palustris)
8. Wire-Stemmed Muhly (Muhlenbergia frondosa)
9. Northern Manna Grass (Glyceria borealis)
10. Floating Manna Grass (Glyceria septentrionalis)
11. Richardson's Rush (Juncus alpinoarticulatus)
12. Black Maple (Acer nigrum)
13. Water-celery (Vallisneria americana)
14. White Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus longirostris)
15. Foxglove Beard-Tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
16. Eastern Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
17. Closed Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)
18. Rough Sedge (Carex scabrata)
19. Greenish Sedge (Carex viridula)
20. Red-Sheathed Bulrush (Scirpus rubrotinctus)
21. Columbian Watermeal(Wolffia columbiana)
22. Climbing Poison-ivy (Rhus radicans s. radicans)
23. River-bank Wild-rye (Elymus riparius)
24. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Locally Rare Breeding Birds (Rare in the Regional Municipality of Durham)
Source: Brian Henshaw 1998 field observation; Status: based on Bain & Henshaw. 1994.

25. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)


The Black-Farewell Wetland Complex is provincially significant with a total score of 822 points. A wetland that scores 600 or more points or has 200 or more points in either the biological or special features component is provincially significant.

Black-Farewell sustains the largest wetland complex and the largest swamps on the Iroquois Plain in the GTA. Black-Farewell is noteworthy for its large number of significant plants and animals, its heron rookery and its coldwater fisheries with resident populations of Brook Trout.


Major wetland functions and features to be maintained at Black-Farewell include, its high diversity of wetlands; its important discharge and recharge functions; its outstanding diversity of species and community types; its coldwater fisheries, its good quality association of wetlands and uplands and its wildlife corridors.

To ensure that Black-Farewell's important discharge and recharge functions are maintained, it is important to maintain water quality, quantity and duration to the wetlands and to safeguard the groundwater. Alterations to water regimes, even minor ones, could have dramatic impacts on wetland communities and their resident species.

There is a need to bring water regimes in Black-Farewell back to their historical levels. Roadside and agricultural ditches and the occasional ditches through the wetlands have all had the effect of drying out Black-Farewell and reducing the critical extent and duration of spring flooding. A long-term water budget should be considered for the Black-Farewell wetlands. The phasing out of at least some ditches could be an important step in improving its water regime.

The high diversity of wetland species at Black-Farewell is the result of its extensive and diverse wetlands that are well connected to each other and to adjacent upland habitats. To maintain species diversity, the interconnected network of wetlands and uplands must be maintained.

Critical associated uplands for Black-Farewell wetland species ate its surrounding woodlands. The woodland frogs at Black-Farewell are dependent on these forests for hibernation and foraging. As well as using spring-flooded wetlands in the complex for breeding, the woodland frogs also breed in some of the ponds in the surrounding abandoned gravel pits. It is critical that travel corridors be maintained for woodland fogs between their forests and breeding ponds.

The high diversity of forest bird species at Black-Farewell also necessitates maintaining its treed swamps and upland forests. Many of these forest birds require large blocks of woodlands for their survival and experience declines following urban development (Friesen et al. 1995).

The largest marshes at Black-Farewell abut agricultural lands Wetlands 8 and 18). Critical uplands for these wetlands would include the adjacent pastures and croplands. These habitats would be utilized by wetland species such as nesting waterfowl, which can nest several hundred metres from a wetland, and amphibians such as the Leopard Frog, which forage in uplands around their wetlands. These activities were all observed at Black-Farewell.

It is critical that seasonally flooded ponds and permanent ponds in the abandoned gravel pits around Black-Farewell be retained. These wet areas support breeding woodland frogs, resident turtles, Leopard Frogs and Green Frogs and unusual Variegated Horsetail communities

Wildlife corridors in and around the Black-Farewell Wetland Complex need to be maintained and strengthened. Studies have shown the importance of wildlife corridors in maintaining diversity and resiliency in an ecosystem (Riley and Mohr 1994). In addition to the travel corridors between breeding ponds and forests there are also larger wildlife corridors at Black-Farewell that occur along the tributaries of Farewell Creek and in a major east-west band.

Encouragement should be given to increasing forest cover in the drainage basin of Black-Farewell particularly around wetlands and larger woodland blocks and along wildlife corridors. Black-Farewell is situated in the midst of a major east-west green corridor along the Iroquois Shoreline. This corridor stretches for 70 kms in the GTA across the breadth of southern Durham from the Rouge River to the Ganaraska River. Connections along this corridor could be strengthened by, for example, reforesting the gaps between wetlands and forested areas.

East-west connections within Black-Farewell could also be strengthened through reforestation along its tributaries. This would include the riverine connections between Wetlands 22 and 23, Wetlands 19 and 31 and Wetlands 1, 2 and 3. Reforesting the agricultural pockets in the midst of the two largest wetlands in the complex (Wetlands 8 and 18) would greatly add to the amount of forest interior habitat.

Connections could also be improved to the north of Black-Farewell. Reforesting the upstream tributaries of Farewell would link it to the Oak Ridges Moraine (MNR 1999). Improved connections to the south would better link Black-Farewell to Lake Ontario and the provincially significant Second Marsh, a premier lakeshore wetland.


Bain, M. and B. Henshaw. 1994. Durham Region Natural History Report 1993. The Pickering Naturalists

Gartner Lee Ltd. 1978. Environmental Sensitivity Mapping Project for the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority.

Gartner Lee Ltd. 1998. Birchdale Village Environmental Impact Study -Phase 2 Final Report

Friesen, L.E., P.F.J. Eagles and R.J. Mackay. 1995. Effects of Residential Development on Forest-dwelling Neotropical Migrant Songbirds. Conservation Biology(9)6: 1405-1414.

Henshaw, B. 1998. ELC Community Description Field Notes for Farewell Creek September 5 and 11. 19998

Henshaw, B. and D. Leadbeater. 1999.in prep. Farewell Creek Natural Heritage Assessment and Identification of Restoration Priorities. Friends of Second Marsh and the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

Leadbeater. D. 1998. Field notes for Trulls Road Woods, September 3 and 5, 1998

MNR. 1987. Wetland Evaluation of the Black -Farewell Wetland Complex. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Unpublished report on file at OMNR Aurora District office.

MNR, Aurora District July 1999. A Natural Heritage System for the Oak Ridges Moraine Greater Toronto Area Portion. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Aurora District

Riley, J.L. and P. Mohr. 1994. The Natural Heritage of Southern Ontario's Settled Landscapes, A Review of Conservation and Restoration Ecology for Land-use and Landscape Planning. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southern Region Aurora

Varga. S., D. Leadbeater, J., Webber, J, Raiser B. Grins, D. Banville, E. Ashley, L Tebby, C. Jacobson, and K. Mewa 1999, draft. The Vascular Plant Flora of the Greater Toronto Area Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Aurora District.

[See Wetland Map page for the MNR August 1999 Courtice area map showing these wetlands, and the Map Links page for links to other maps of woodlots, sensitive areas, water table, etc.[See Wetland Map page for the MNR August 1999 Courtice area map showing these wetlands, and the see also Current Events]

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